Here's some information about "CALLING ALL JITTERBUGS!" that we couldn't fit into the CD booklet...

Notes on Personnel

The album was recorded in four different sessions, months apart from each other. The last four tracks (11-14) are by a sub-group of the band, sometimes referred to as "the Hollywood Syncopators". These four songs were recorded to be used in films, where they are heard in the background; we include them here for the enjoyment of our fans. The guest vocalists, Jeff Gilbert and Frederick Hodges, are members of a wonderful Bay Area '20s-style band, the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra.
The complete personnel for the three Swing Orchestra sessions is as follows:

the band on tracks 1,2,9,10:
alto saxes: Don Shelton, Bill Liston
tenor saxes: Roger Neumann, Jay Mason
bari sax: Chuck Erdahl
trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Darrel Gardner, Don Clarke
trombones: Charlie Morillas, Bruce Otto, John Grab
guitar: Barry Zweig, bass: Simeon Pillich, drums: Gordon Peeke, piano: Bill Elliott

the band on tracks 3-6, 8:
alto saxes: Bill Liston, Bob Reitmeier
tenor saxes: Roger Neumann, Gene Burkert
bari sax: Jay Mason
trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Darrel Gardner, Don Clarke
trombones: Alex Iles, Andy Martin, John Grab
guitar: Barry Zweig, bass: Dave Stone, drums: Gordon Peeke, piano: Bill Elliott

the band on track 7:
alto saxes: Jay Mason, Gene Burkert
tenor saxes: Roger Neumann, Ray Herman
bari sax: John Reilly
trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Darrel Gardner, Don Clarke
trombones: Bill Tole, John Grab, Jim Boltinghouse
guitar: Barry Zweig, bass: Simeon Pillich, drums: Gordon Peeke, piano: Bill Elliott

Notes on the songs

Most of the tunes on this album reflect the writing I've done for the band since we first connected with a dancing audience. Each tune originated with the thought of a specific genre that I wanted to add to our book: a medium-tempo swing number that sizzles (several of them!), a Glenn Miller-style ballad, a Prez Prado-style cha-cha, etc. "Mildred" originated with a comment from Michael Geiger, one of the Bill's Lucky Stars: "It would be fun if we had a simple tune that really jumps!" Others began life as film assignments. "Whisper Amor" was a Cole Porter-style song intended for Madonna in the film "Dick Tracy". Interestingly, both "Tonight I'm Goin' Out With You" and "Oh, Vicky!" were written as replacements for "Ain't Misbehavin'" - the first modelled after Louis Armstrong's 1930 record, and the second played in Fats Waller's distinctive stride piano style. It's a curious quirk of Hollywood that even such a big-budget, sure-fire smash as "Independence Day" had run low on funds in its final days of editing, and the producers chose to save money by licensing my music instead of Fats Waller's - a curious quirk that I'm very grateful for, by the way!

Notes on the sound of the band

Discerning ears will notice that the sound of these recordings is utterly unique - kind of like old records, yet rich and clear like no 78 ever was. That's because we set out to capture all the best elements that we love on those old records. Of course, it starts with the writing and playing. After years of study I've absorbed the arranging styles of the past and feel completely at home with them - in fact it's one of my great joys to be alone with my manila score paper and pencils, dreaming up and scribbling licks that I can't wait to hear the band play! Because my players are such first-rate sight readers, we don't rehearse much - I generally only call a rehearsal when I have new material to break in. If it's written right on paper, they'll play it right. We talk quite a bit about the phrasing, and the guys are very careful to mark the parts correctly with all the little nuances of phrasing that bring the music to life.
In the studio, we ignore the last forty years of recording techniques and go back to the days when great-sounding big band records were made. We sit close together, almost in the same formation as on stage, with no baffles. We use only a few microphones, including the classic RCA 44s (see our CD cover) and 77s (the one that looks like a giant peanut). The whole idea is to let the sounds blend together and to make the balance happen in the room.
The sound of the room adds a wonderful color - in this case, the sound of Capitol Studio B, which is essentially unchanged from when it opened in 1956, and was itself modelled after the previous Capitol studio that had been used since the early '40s.
Our major concession to modernity is that we record in stereo - but it's a naturally ambient, concert hall kind of stereo without the hard panning (trumpets left, trombones right, etc.) typical of modern big band recordings. What really sets our setup apart is that there are no microphones anywhere near the drums (except one on the bass drum, used sparingly). We let the drums spill into all the other mikes, giving them that marvellous old-time depth.
Continuing the retro theme, the quartet - Bill's Lucky Stars - sings together into one mike, just like the Pied Pipers and the Modernaires did. They at first sang on four mikes, like Manhattan Transfer and other contemporary groups, till we discovered the benefits of one: by huddling close together they hear each other in a very physical way and can control their own blend. Even more important, the guys, who are farther away from the mike than Cassie, can belt it out with mucho gusto - and that, it turns out, is absolutely central to recreating the old-time magic vocal sound.

If you have a musical or technical question about our recordings, please feel free to
e-mail Bill with your query.

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